Arusha, August 10, 2011 (FH) - Rwanda's semi-traditional gacaca courts have 54 genocide related cases left to complete before winding up their activities in December this year, according to the Executive Secretary of Gacaca services. Some of these include appeals.

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Domitille Mukantaganzwa told a news conference in Kigali on Tuesday that her services would do everything possible to conclude the remaining cases in the next two months, according to Wednesday's edition of the New Times newspaper.

"We should have completed all the cases but we were challenged by the new cases that were brought about by the Rwandan refugees from DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) who voluntarily returned home recently,'' the New Times quotes her as saying.

Mukantaganzwa said delays had also been caused by "some suspects who take their time", intentionally delaying proceedings. "Sometimes they claim that their eyewitnesses are not around and the courts should wait for them to return," she added.

Gacaca are semi traditional courts introduced to deal with the backlog of over a million cases involving persons suspected of taking part in the 1994 genocide.

Mukantaganzwa said the final overall report on gacaca courts would be made public before the end of the year and would contain "achievements, challenges and recommendations", according to the New Times.

After several postponements, Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama announced in May that gacaca would be officially closed in December 2011. He said the courts had tried over a million people, "a great achievement that would otherwise have been impossible".   

Also in May, the New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch released a 144-page report entitled "Justice compromised: the legacy of Rwanda's community-based gacaca courts".  It said the legacy of gacaca was mixed and included fair trial violations.


© Hirondelle News Agency